Two years ago a friend and fellow board member asked me to write "my SAAGNY story". Like too many things in life I procrastinated doing this. I could give you many reasons why I did and most of them are valid. I have always found it interesting in life when different worlds collide. I have typically kept my work life separate from my private life. I have not done this for any particular reason, I just have.
I am keenly aware that in the 22 years that I have been in this industry that we all take just one thing away with us at the end of our careers. That is our reputation. Sure some of us might have worked hard enough to sock away a few dollars and be able to retire, others have made fortunes, and many have uncertain futures. Besides what I call "a few bucks", I have frequently thought about over the years what relationships do I take with me?
I have met some incredible people in this industry over the last two decades. Some of whom I even consider friends. I am also a realist. I have seen the following scenario happen hundreds of times. That "buyer" or "sales person" that is a gateway for someone to make a living is put on a pedestal while they help other people to earn a living. I wonder about the long line of people who (phonily) laugh at their jokes, tell them how good looking they are and "pretend" to be their friends...I wonder where this line of people will be when that person retires, changes jobs or careers and can no longer help them anymore.
It amazes me when I hear someone telling me that "so and so" is a great person and how much they "adore" them. Yet when I ask them about that person a few months or years later they are shocked to hear that that person passed away, retired, changed jobs or careers.
I don't for a moment pretend that I am perfect or am in touch with everyone I have ever met all the time. Neither one is realistic.
About 20 years ago when I was walking the New York Premium Incentive Show I met a nice woman with a friendly face. Most people know her as Eileen Lynch. She was volunteering at the SAAGNY Booth. She approached me and told me about the association and just how much they did for her as a member. She gave me some information, her card, and told me about a trade show that they put on in the Catskills.
I joined the association, attended those shows. Learned a lot about the industry and my career and business began to grow. My relationships within the industry did not. The reason that they didn't is you can't expect to write a check to any association and expect that it will do anything for you beyond what the immediate benefits of joining are.
About six years later I moved my business from Long Island to "Upstate New York" (Albany Market). I decided to get involved with the association. I spearheaded the Capital Region Committee where we began introducing educational programming to people within the industry in that area. My network immediately began to grow. When I made the decision to transition from the Distributor to Supplier side of the business twelve years ago I found, through my SAAGNY network, knowledgeable people who helped to guide me through that process. It was through the good fortune of those people that not only assisted me with selling my distributorship but helped me land on my feet with a company that I have been proud to associate myself with since April of 2001 (Sanford B2B).
About five and half years ago I was asked if I would serve on the Board of Directors for SAAGNY. I accepted and it opened my mind to a new dimension of the industry that I never knew existed.
I have given.... and given...and given to the industry and our association in many ways over the years, particularly in the way of my time.
There is an expression that you "get what you give".
I find it ironic that on the very last day of my tenure as a board member of SAAGNY that my mother passed away.
As I cried and mourned this enormous loss this past week I couldn't help but be lifted the outpouring of love and support for me and my family.
The emails, voice mails, text messages, Facebook posts, phone calls, smoke signals and most importantly the hugs and kisses helped to elevate my spirits daily, even if only for a brief moment.
Having immigrated to this country when I was a baby, my family has a network of friends across the globe. When I had a chance to assess who has been there for me as a person and us as a family, what touched me in a unique and profound way was it was the "SAAGNY community" that stood out in my mind.
These aren't people who benefit business wise from Peter Farman. These aren't people who had ever met my mother. These are the people, and the relationships that have transcended the business into the personal world.
They were there for no other reason than they care.
• I am lucky to have had the chance to serve with these people.
• I am lucky to have had a chance to get to know them.
• I am lucky to be able to continue to work with them.
That is my SAAGNY Story.
Peter Farman is an active member is SAAGNY and a Key Account Manager for Sanford B2B